A Travellerspoint blog

China

Beijing Part II

overcast 35 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We got up really to go and see dead Chairman Mao, and when we arrived at Tiananmen Square the queues were awful already! P1070784.jpg We were amazed and shocked at how few Chinese people had seen him! Anyway, we had to shuffle in a massive queue for an hour until we got 3 seconds to shuffle past his 'corpse', which Chris and I thought was shockingly fake (no photos allowed by the way)! Anyway, after that we took a stroll in the nearby Temple of Heaven Park, which was more like an amusement park when we first entered as they were all doing line dancing and salsa in the park at 8am! Very strange nation! Chris and I actually believe that none of them work! Anyway in the middle of the park is a really impressive old Pagoda, which has been beautifully restored and offered us a small bit of peace away from the crowds! P1070791.jpg

The following day we took a day trip north of the city to the Summer Palace, which was really great. Unfortunately the smog was so bad that we couldn't see across the famous lake for the view of the palace! We walked all the way up to the top though and walked through all the palatial complex. P1070807.jpgP1070808.jpgP1070837.jpg After that we got a boat back across the lake and got the tube to see the Olympic Village. It was brilliant to finally see it after it being on our TVs for so long last summer, but the grey sky and the grey buildings gave the whole scene a rather dull look. P1070846.jpgP1070849.jpgP1070857.jpgP1070858.jpg Despite the fact that there were still people coming to see it, it looked rather abandoned. We strolled around for a while though and then headed back home for the night.

Yesterday we went to see the Great Wall of China, which was really fantastic. We got there in the afternoon and luckily the crowds were getting fewer in number (whereas in the morning, you apparently can't even move down the wall at all). We went to the section of wall at Badaling, which is the most heavily restored and the one which we all know. P1070867.jpgP1070879.jpgP1070880.jpgP1070884.jpg There are other, less renovated sections which the hikers like to frequent, but we felt that the stereotypical visit was OK for our first time. Some of the sections were so steep it was practically vertical, but we managed to walk a small section of it, whilst the sun was setting. Afterwards we got the cable car back down to ground level and headed back to Beijing. P1070860.jpg

That evening we went to Tienanmen Square to watch the flag being lowered. P1070890.jpg We thought that perhaps a handful of people would show up, as the main event is the raising of the flag in the morning really. How wrong we were. As ever, there must have been about 1000 people crowded around the flag pole, complete madness. They were going mad, climbing all over each other just to watch their guards take the flag down. It was all over in a matter of seconds, but the crowds seemed elated that they now had another pointless video to add to their collection. The worrying thing is that they were all Beijingers, very odd!

After that, on the way back home, we strayed onto the 'snack market', which literally sells anything you can carry in your hand, including some of the grossest things we have ever seen! P1070897.jpg One stall was selling things on skewers, when we got closer we realised there were lots of things on sale including: skewered starfish, skewered grubs, skewered scorpions, skewered seahorses and the list goes on. When we saw that all of the above were still moving on the skewers, we quickly found the nearest exit! P1070900.jpgP1070901.jpg

We have packed everything up today and we leave on our train at 11pm tonight. We are oddly nervous about it for some reason, perhaps because we are finally turning tail now and heading back home? Either way I'm sure it will all be fine. Not much left now really. We shall write once we get to Russia. Until then, we miss you all lots and cant wait to get home!

Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 05:50 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Beijing Part I

overcast 35 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We got an overnight train from Xi'an and arrived in Beijing early in the morning. After waiting for our room to be free we checked in and showered. On the first day we spent it getting our bearings and having a look at the big shopping street in central Beijing. We really like it so far, it's busy busy (as with the whole of China) but quite modern as it has only just been redone for the olympics! We also went to see Harry Potter, which was in english so success all round!

On the second day we went to Tiananmen Square, which was amazing to finally see. P1070620.jpg Not as big as you think its going to be as Mao's mausoleum is right in the middle of it, but it was still huge and full of people (and cctv cameras!). P1070638.jpgP1070636.jpg Apparently there are lots of plain clothed policemen placed in the square to 'maintain order'! P1070647.jpgP1070652.jpgP1070658.jpg We walked around the square for a bit and then went into The Great Hall of the People, which is where their congress meets. Luckily they were not in session so we got to go in, which was great. Inside is a huge auditorium which seats 10,000 'politicians' who basically run the whole country! Really impressive room though, in 50's style (bless communism, so behind the times). P1070626.jpgP1070622.jpg After that we headed back to the market area off the main shopping street, which was everything you expect china to be. Market stalls piled high with tat, we have never seen so much rubbish being sold in one place. We are ashamed to have bought a couple of things!

Today we had a fantastic day. We started off going to see the Forbidden City (called the Palace Museum here - doesn't really have the same ring does it?). Anyway, after queuing for about 20 minutes, we finally got tickets. P1070674.jpgP1070675.jpg It was fantastic to finally walk around it, and the buildings looked really impressive. P1070684.jpgP1070693.jpg Unfortunatly the crowds got to us eventually and we ended up searching for exits towards the end. P1070706.jpg After that we crossed the road and walked up the hill behind the Forbidden City, from where we got fantastic views of the whole complex. P1070717.jpg After walking back down we went to another park next door, Beihai Park, within which there is the famous White Dagoba, which sits on a hill on an island right above a huge lake. P1070727.jpg We walked around for a bit and then hired a mini speed boat on a whim and spent the next hour going all the way round the lake. P1070741.jpgP1070753.jpg Even though the lake was crowded as well, we managed to escape the crowds for a short time! Once we were back on dry land, we went and looked at the Drum and Bell Tower, which were much larger than we thought they would be! P1070772.jpg

We plodded back home and had the most amazing dinner ever at a restaurant which served some oddly labelled meals. Naturally there was only one choice for us, Peking Duck. They serve it just like they do in the UK, but its 10 times better and 10 times cheaper! We have another busy day planned for tomorrow! P1070777.jpgP1070779.jpgP1070781.jpgP1070782.jpg

Hope you are all well,
Miss you lots,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 05:29 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Xi'an!!

sunny 37 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Our flight from Chengdu to Xi'an was fine and we arrived only slightly late (which is impressive by asian standards). Xi'an is a really lovely city, the first place in china that has managed to retain its chinese routes, as all its buildings are still chinese in stlye. There is a friendly feel about the city as well, so all in all we have gelled well with Xi'an. We relaxed on the first day and plodded about the city. Yesterday we went to see the terracotta warriors! We got up at 5.45am in the morning and then got two buses and arrvived at the ticket office half an hour before it even opened! This is our attempt to beat the ever present chinese tour groups. We got our tickets and got to the pits only a little after opening time. We must have been amongst the first 20 people let in! There are 3 pits in all, number one being the most famous and the lesser two being sidelined somewhat. Pit 2 was just a big hole in the ground where it had been excavated, and pit 3 had a small selection of warriors. By the time we got to pit one, the crowds luckily hadn't gathered yet so we managed to get prime positions to stare at them for a while. P1070500.jpgP1070537.jpg It was so impressive, there are about 2000 warriors on display in the pit (which is in an aircraft hangar type building), each as we all know with different faces. P1070556.jpgP1070585.jpgP1070552.jpg Its estimated that if each warrior was present, the room would hold 6000! It was just stunning, there is no other way to describe it. P1070525.jpg We walked right to the back of the pit, where excavating is still going on and the neverending 'glueing back together process' to build them back up to their former glory. We lingered quite a while until the tour groups arrived...needless to say we ran for the door when they did, as they dont exist in numbers less than 4000 people and the tour guides have microphones as well! Urgh! So we scarpered back to the city after that! Had a fantastic day though, even though it cost 10 quid to get in!

Today we went to have a look around the ancient walled city of Xi'an, where we're staying. We got a bus this afternoon south of the city to go and see The Big Wild Goose Pagoda (I know, we laughed as well), which is a really old pagoda surrounded by a new temple complex. P1070591.jpgP1070594.jpgP1070599.jpg It was really impressive and at 64 metres high, towers above many of the new buildings, despite it being 1400 years old! P1070603.jpg After walking around the complex for a bit we got a bus back to the city walls, which have been repeatedly rebuilt over the years (due to war, disaster and neglect), but were still really awe inspiring to walk along and get a feel for xi'an. P1070605.jpgP1070607.jpg The current Ming Dynasty wall dates from the 14th century and is still one of the most impressive city walls in China. It's over 25km long and takes 3hrs to walk around, which we were not keen to do in nearly 40deg heat! Of course, being chinese, there are golf buggies to whisk you around in an hour or so for the extortionate price of 10 pounds! P1070608.jpgP1070609.jpgP1070606.jpg After that we went to the bell and drum tower which are in the centre of town, which look slightly lost in the middle of a traffic island! P1070614.jpg After that we decided it was too hot, despite it being one of the clearest days in China so far, so we retreated back to the hotel!

We leave Xi'an tomorrow evening on an overnight train to Beijing, where we will be staying for a week!

Hope everyone is well,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 03:40 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Chengdu!!

overcast 35 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We went to the Giant Panda Research Base just outside Chengdu yesterday. We got up really early as pandas are only active in the morning as that is when they feed! P1070291.jpgP1070327.jpg We had a totally brilliant time, they are really sociable and playful with each other and like to perform for the crowd. P1070304.jpgP1070324.jpgP1070374.jpgP1070378.jpg Thats about as far as they go though, as they sleep for the rest of the day! P1070302.jpgP1070403.jpg They are so cute and lazy though, most falling asleep part way through a stunt for the audience! We got a really funny video of one falling gracefully from a tree, but we cant upload it on here unfortunatly! The crowds got too much by the time we left and we popped into the Red Panda enclosure before leaving. They are funny little creatures, half way between a fox and a racoon - nothing like a panda at all! P1070430.jpgP1070432.jpgP1070437.jpg They seem to be a lot more shy than their giant cousins, but they are just as cute and we managed to get some good photos despite the fact that they are not that sociable. We had a great day though - even the road signs are panda related!!P1070443.jpg

Today we got up really realy again to get a bus 2 hours down the road to see the 71 metre tall, 1300 year old Leshan Grand Buddha. Having seen a lot of buddhas throughout india and south east asia of varying sizes and poses, this was the piece de resistance as it is the largest buddha in the world! Even though we got there early we still had to queue for about and hour and a half as chinese tour groups start at about 400 people per group! P1070457.jpg It took ages to walk down the cliff to his feet, but it was well worth it! P1070444.jpgP1070448.jpgP1070450.jpgP1070461.jpgP1070464.jpg The climb back up was exhausting due to the heat and number of steps. We made it in the end and then went to get a boat which takes you on the river just in front of the Buddha, where you can also see to 'guards' carved into the rock which aren't visible from the land. P1070472.jpgP1070476.jpgP1070483.jpg That was also brilliant, despite the fact that we were forced to wear bright orange life jackets as no-one in asia can swim! We got the bus back to Chengdu afterwards, rather sweaty and very tired from the day! We fly tomorrow afternoon to Xi'an, where we will be for the next 4 days!

Hope you are all well,
Missing you lots,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 01:57 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Nanjing!!

sunny 38 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Wow are we having a stressful time in China at the moment. The lack of english and immense heat are finally getting to us. We have had a very stressful day trying to get train tickets out of here, and failing miserably. We tried for 3 hours to get train tickets and couldnt, so we gave up and checked flight tickets which were only 10 quid more and fly tomorrow morning. The earliest train we could get is days away so we are flying to Chengdu tomorrow morning at 8.30am.

After that we went sightseeing and went all the way up their hill, on which Dr Sun Yat-Sen (the founder of the first chinese republic and considered a legend over here) has been laid to rest. We didnt realise that you had to walk up about 400 steps to get to his mausoleum, and in 39 degrees that wasnt a tempting offer, so we aborted that plan rather quickly! We got the cable car, which goes further up the hill, all the way to the top. 149793891_..e8fa_1_.jpg We didnt realise that when they put 'cable car', it actually meant 'ski lift'! It took half an hour to get to the top, which was rather relaxing. Unfortunatly china as a whole is so hazy that when we got to the top, we could barely see the city below! We got the cable car back down, followed by a bus, which took us back to town. From there we went to see the old city walls, which used to be the longest city walls in the world (before parts of it got destroyed by the Japanese). They were really impressive, from the Ming dynasty and was built like fort knox! culturalch..2d32_1_.jpg We walked around there for a bit, and then got on a random bus which just happened to take us back to our road! Finally something works for us!

So due to the slight change in plan, we are leaving Nanjing early tomorrow morning and flying to Chengdu to see the pandas!!

Hope you are all well,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 03:37 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Shanghai Part II - Hangzhou

sunny 35 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We went on a day trip today to the nearby city of Hangzhou. Its a very pretty city, built around a massive lake. We decided that it looked a bit like windermere, as there was both a huge lake and it was full of chinese people! haha! We spent some time just wandering around the edge of the lake (which apprently takes 5 hours to walk around completly!) and having a look at the various temples and pagodas along the way. P1070242.jpgP1070245.jpgP1070248.jpg After that we went on a cable car up to the top of the hill to get fantastic views of the city and the lake. P1070250.jpgP1070254.jpg We came back and relaxed at the bottom of the hill before heading back to get our return train to Shanghai. We had an ace day, but are now tired out and looking forward to bed! We leave Shanghai tomorrow to go to Nanjing, which is 3 hours away on the train.

We hope you are all well,
Missing you lots,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 06:57 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Shanghai Part I

sunny 35 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We got our 20 hour train from Hong Kong with little delay and arrived in Shanghai on time the following morning. Our hotel is a little out of the city, but the tube means that you're never far from the centre anyway! We headed into the city centre the following morning to see the bright lights of Shanghai. The famous bund and the cityscape are the two most famous views Shanghai can offer and we were very disappointed to see that massive boards have been put up right in front of the bund, so not only can you not get a photo of the city scape across the river, you also cant get a photo of the Bund as you are too close (it's all in aid of renovation of the riverfront for the Shanghai World Expo 2010). Rather disgruntled we crossed the river via the weird and wonderful 'bund sightseeing tunnel', in which you cannot see any of the bund or any sights as the tunnel goes under the river. To make up for the lack of sights, they covered the tunnel in LED lights to make it 'crazy and exciting', like only the Chinese can. Lets just say Chris and I left slightly underwhelmed. Once on the other side of the river we couldn't even see the Bund due to the roadworks going on on the other side, so we gave up and went up the (slightly gaudy as ever) Pearl Tower instead. P1070143.jpg The view from up there was slightly better, if a little hazy, but we couldn't stay up there for long due to the masses of people! P1070146.jpgP1070158.jpg It took us about 15 -20 minutes to get back down as we had to queue for the lift!

We crossed back over the river, where Chris slipped down some steps, as they thought cleaning them by throwing a bucket of water on them would be a safe and practical thing to do. Hes ok, but we got so grumpy then that we gave up and returned back to the hostel. Chris managed to slip again on another wet patch and broke his flip flop, so had to trek back bare foot and buy some more at the other end. Not a good day for Chris et Al!

We tried again yesterday (take II) with slightly more success as we realised we could get a boat across the river. There is no bridge, you can only get the underground, boat or freaky tunnel thing across. Anyway we crossed over the river and got our first shot of the cityscape, which looks pretty impressive. P1070163.jpg After that we went up The Shanghai World Finiancial Centre, which is the 3rd tallest building in the world and has the worlds highest observation deck (the one on the right)! P1070170.jpgP1070172.jpg We stayed up there until it went dark and the lights of Shanghai came on, which we quite impressive. P1070185.jpgP1070204.jpg We are surprised at how much of a building site Shanghai is, there are roadworks everywhere and we expect it will look very different in years to come. We got the boat back across the river, eventually got our photo of the bright lights of Shanghai at night P1070218.jpg and then got the tube back amoungst the masses of people. P1070228.jpg

We are having a day off today to do washing etc, as Chris has had too much of the crowds! We are going on a day trip tomorrow to Hangzhou!

Hope you are all well
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xx

Posted by chrisalex 00:44 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hanoi to Hong Kong!!

sunny 33 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

hi everyone!

Sorry it has been so long since our last entry, we have been on the road for quite a while and have been busy applying for visas since we arrived in Hong Kong. We left Hanoi what seems like a lifetime ago now, and got a bus all the way into china, which stopped at the very swish china border. After a few questions we were allowed in and then had another 2 hours to get to Nanning. Once we arrived there we realised how stuck we were as no-one spoke english and all the signs are in chinese. It took us a long time through pointing and maps to find our hotel, but we got there in the end.
As soon as we arrived our first mission was to get train tickets to Guangzhou (near HK). We asked the lady at reception to kindly write down which train and class we wanted in chinese, so all we had to do was pass it to a ticket officer and they would give us the train tickets. Well it didnt really play out like that. Once we gave the ticketing officer our piece of paper, she checked on the machine and then spoke to us in chinese! helpful! After realising we didnt speak chinese, she wrote it down for us....in chinese! So we gave up hope and returned to the hotel and asked the lady on reception to book it for us for a small booking fee. Either way she managed to get it sorted and she booked a train for us for the following day to Guangzhou. Unfortunatly it left at 5.15am, so we had to get up at 3.30am, which was rather painful! The train journey lasted 14 hours and we had beds so it wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be. From Guangzhou we got the fast train to Hong Kong, which took 2 hours and went about 120mph, the fastest train we have been on so far! When we arrived we walked the last bit down streets bursting with neon lights! Everything is high rise here, so the hotel we are staying in is on the 16th floor of a building! We found it in the end and went to get some food before going to bed! When we got to bed we realised we had been travelling for nearly 24 hours straight, tiring work!

Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 03:47 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 8 of 8) Page [1]